The Beer Gatherer

Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular, following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die and other beer musings.

Archive for the category “Canadian Beer”

Canadian beer – end of the easy stage.

There are 31 Canadian beers in the first edition of 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die. I have already written about 7 of them, all under the Canadian Beer category in this blog and drank 4 more, which are reviewed in the following paragraphs:

The first three beers here hail from Quebec. Dernière Volonté and Rosée d’Hibiscus are brewed by Dieu du Ciel from Montreal – one of my favourite cities in the world, and Maudite is made by Unibroue in Chambly, which is a suburb of Montreal. All three bear strong Belgian influence.

Rosée d’Hibiscus is a wheat beer with hibiscus flowers added during brewing, that don’t only give the beer hibiscus tea aroma, but also the colour of blood orange. Pretty neat. It tastes tarty with fruity undertones. A nice and easy to drink beer with tea-like finish and light body.

Dernière Volonté – that’s French for Last Will – is a Belgian Ale with 7% abv. We shared our bottle at the tasting and got the very bottom of it, which was very yeasty. Ugh. Hence the murky greenish blond colour and the very yeasty aroma.  Beer tasted sweetish and rich. Medium body, smooth, fruity aftertaste ended our sample.

Maudite (“The Damned”) – a strong Belgian ale – Chilled honey, a little onion, then more honey honey – lots of honey – in the nose. Sweet, malty and heavily fruity taste. Full-bodied, mildly carbonated, long, red apple finish.

Of these three, my favourite is Dernière Volonté.

the 4th Canadian beer I drank and haven’t blogged about yet is King Pilsner. locally available in Ontario, my brother fetched a bottle for me in one of his maple tapping adventures. He also brought a mason jar filled with the most delicious maple syrups I have ever tasted, surely not a match to the beer, which may have a little aged by the time we opened the can. Hazy gold with white film. Grainy aroma with apparent saaz grassy hops. Grassy taste, delicate bitterness with hints of grainy sweetness that then disappears in favor of bitterness. Light body, delicate fizz, bitter finish.

Rosée d’Hibiscus, Dernière Volonté, Maudite and King Pilsner are Beers #415, #416, #417, #418 I Must Try Before I Die.  This is the end of the easy part of checking off Canadian beer. Any Canadian beergeeks reading this? I’ll be happy to trade locals for locals. Contact me and I’ll send you my list.

Rosée d’Hibiscus, Dernière Volonté

commonwealth brews.


At a tasting we had last month REL shared an Australian beer that appears in The Book. It was really exciting, because beers from Australia and New Zealand hardly ever cross my path. Too remote, too local. If anyone from these areas are into trading, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you – I can offer you crafty goodness from The Holy Land, and if country ticking is your thing, I can also get you pale lager from Jordan and Ethiopia.

Anyway, not sure whether the bottle of Mountain Goat Hightail Ale that’s originated in Richmond, Victoria, was brought all the way from the Land of Oz or from East Coast US. For us, it’s one of the little miracles that always happen within REL’s network of beer buddies. Anyway, this beer pours clear dark amber-brown with white ring. It has a nice grainy and toasted aroma – something I always enjoy in a beer, and tastes a little sweet and malty. It is light-bodied, has soft carbonation, and a long, bitter finish.

I shared a bottle of Dieu du Ciel Route des Epices, which is a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns. Rye’s one of my favourite grains and I’m always up to spiciness – in this beer it is derived both from the grain and the spice. Clear-to-hazy brown with a quickly dissolving white head, it has black pepper and rye aroma, with a little barley malt and bread. Dry bitterness with black pepper dominance in the mouth and presence of rye. Medium-bodied, smooth carbonation, peppery finish – hot aftertaste. Pretty awesome.

We also tasted another version of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout – Brand Coffee Stout 2013 – but I have already ticked Bourbon County Stout off my list. Not that I have any objections to try all the editions, because it is such a great beer, only that I don’t bother writing about it.

Mountain Goat Hightail Ale and Dieu du Ciel Route des Epices are Beers #357 and #358 I Must Try Before I Die.

Break The Spell

It’s been over a month since my last post here, and ages since the last post in beerdrinking. We flew to England. Traveled in towns and villages, following CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide book and App. Attended a Real Ale festival in York. Drank 125 different beers and ciders over the course of six days. Returned home to madness. Campaign, work-related bar crawls, no time to eat or sleep or see loved ones. Crashing on Friday night – our weekend – after a long day of phone calls and emails going back and forth – Tel Aviv – Paris, Paris – Dublin, London and New York somewhere in-between. Typing and being creative were the last things on my mind. I just wanted to sleep.

The campaign is finally up and like a teenage groupie I find myself driving ‘unnecessarily’, ‘accidentally’ bumping into ‘my’ outdoor ads. Yup, I am THIS lame. And now I have two weekends to rest before flying to an incentive trip with dozens of bar and restaurant owners from all over the country and writing business reviews and preparing corporate visits and whatnot. It’s a chance to recap, train the fingertips to type and the mind to focus on my things, my home-grown passion. I wanna write about the Real Ale Trail. However, we haven’t edited the photos and I haven’t read my notes from the trip yet. And since our return I attended two tastings and drank stuff from The Book and tonight there’s another tasting and more Book beers and if I don’t cover whatever has been consumed over the past two weeks the world will fall apart! Won’t it?

So, The weekend after we returned The Secret Agent and I attended an extensive tasting. One session, 21 beers. I shit you not. We contributed 3 bottles to this session:

Surly Coffee Bender with black pepper, coffee and vanilla aroma and delicate coffee sourness – derived from  cold-pressing the beer in ground coffee beans and results in a tasty, fun drink; Mill Street Coffee Porter grabbed by my Excellent Little Brother on a business trip to Toronto, where coffee is also very dominant, both in the mouth and in the nose, but a bit drier and roastier than the previous one and North Coast Brother Thelonious, A big Belgian beer that holds 9.3% abv and adorns a beautiful label. It’s a spicy one: fruity, nutty, raisins, clove and cinnamon in the nose, very fruity, sweet and slightly alcoholic taste and a sweet fruity finish. Still, despite the high abv. and its Belgianness, it wasn’t a tough drink.

The following week I drove REL and The Actuary (who as I typing this are now ticking and rating in Rome’s craft beer festival) to Baseball Tom’s sunlit bachelor pad in the ‘burbs. We watched Brew Dogs and Brewmasters and tasted beer like Yona Yona Ale that Tom brought back from Thailand, a Japanese APA. It was a pretty ugly beer – filled with weird floaties, with peach and toffee aroma and sweet toffee taste. I didn’t feel the  cascade hops or anything like that – something happened to the content of the can before we opened it. Another APA we drank in the occasion was Three Floyds Alpha King which was pretty good: I’ve had the bottle for quite some time and while its hoppiness started to fade, but soft, orangey bitter taste and a smooth, citrusy finish indicated its previous awesomeness.


Now off to rest for an hour, before heading out to another tasting.

These were beers #303, #304, #305, #306 and #307 I Must Try Before I Die. More to come tonight.

trois bières et de fumée*

(*blame Google Translate for any incoherence)

4 days after landing and I’m still in a holiday mode, that’s aided by Daylight Saving Time and the fact that the homework deadline is not until Sunday.

Uh, I guess the holiday mode ends this afternoon then.

Still haven’t digitized the tasting notes from Romania – been busy slutwalking, declaring that it won’t happen to me cos I’ll kill myself as soon as I start losing my cognitive abilities and/ or suffer from urinary incontinence after watching Amour and getting high on the smell of fresh garlic – I wish I could send you a link to this scent! I’ve been thinking about scent recording a lot during the trip to Romania. Every evening when we were out in the cold and smelled the smoke coming out of the chimneys I took a big sniff in attempt to observe this fiery scent in my mind.

this beer blog is powered by radical feminism.

this beer blog is powered by radical feminism.

I love those social-reject aromata. I can sniff my fingers for hours after cutting garlic and sometimes I go into phases of using Pine Tar Soap because of its bonfire aroma. I keep a stash of bars in the bathroom cupboard to satisfy this crave. Readers who are not new to the blog already know that a smokey aroma means an automatic beer-crush. Thus, I was so delighted when The Actuary brought a big bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter to a small tasting we had on Thursday. Big bottle + small tasting = more for me! Alascan Brewing smokes its own malt for this beer and releases it once a year. The bottle shared with us is from a 2012 vintage. It pours very black with a light brown head and has a hardcore smokey aroma, like a fire-pit. Smoke is present in the mouth as well and the beers bitterness reminds me more than anything eating a slightly burnt potato peel. Lag BaOmer’s around the corner. As an aware adult I am deeply angered by the air pollution this day brings but as a smoke-ash fiend I just wish I had somewhere to scam a burnt potato from. Anyone?  Anyway, back to the beer, it has the most perfect pallate! Medium-to-heavy body, round, slightly sweet finish, mild carbonation and a dry feel that leads to a smoky aftertaste. I’m in love!


We brought to the tasting a bottle of Unibroue Trois Pistoles that’s been laying in the fridge for quite some time. This 9% abv. liquid pours headless murky dark brown and unpretty sight that follow with a weird and unpredictable nutty aroma: walnut liquor, alcohol and nutmeg. That taste that follows is as spicy as it gets: sweet, candy, marzipan, tonka and hot spices were noted. The body is full and heavy, carbonation is delicate and a warm feeling follows. It’s a nice, warming winter beer that’s hard to drink on its own. It was wise sharing it.

terribleThe Dead Swedish Girl expressed her concern when I asked for a refill – in a previous tasting The Secret Agent and I brought another bottle of Unibroue, La Terrible, that got me terribly drunk. It was quite intentional, as I needed to unload some emotional burden caused by a certain (positive and blessed yet emotionally exhausting) project at work. Again, Belgian Strong Ale, high abv (10.5%), big bottle and lots of liquid to spare. Black, opaque with an off-white head that dissolves quickly, sweet, nutella chocolate spread aroma that’s also somewhat spiced and a sweet, spicy and slightly fruity taste. Terrible’s body is full and its finish is very sweet. Again, heavy, very spicy, very tasty and more suitable for dessert than for half-way through the tasting.

Alaskan Smoked Porter and Trois Pistoles and Terrible by Unibroue are beers #206, #207 and #208 I Must Try Before I Die. Hope this weekend is as sunny and warm wherever you are!


Last Call

Mikkeller says hi.

So… we’re flying to Switzerland for the weekend.

Ain’t the above sentence sounds, well, European? A featherlight getaway, one in a few that The Secret Agent and I take every year. Not as exciting as the tracks in Vietnam or the parties in Ibiza, but still fun and necessary break.

Of course, being Israelis who struggle for every shekel that enters our bank account, this weekend getaway is anything but obvious: we are going to The Young Gods’ show at the Rote Fabrik, a silver jubilee of their first album. Needless to say, we plan to cram the weekend with as many beer tastings and hunting as possible, although neither Basel nor Zürich seem like big beer cities (you can buy  Mongolian beer there  and we know enough people who consider this fact a good enough reason to visit a town but still…).

Before heading to the Land of Expensive Brews, we stopped in Jaffa, at REL’s parents’ lovely apartment, for a short tasting in Riedel glasses, with a smaller group than usual and a smaller variety of beer than usual. Yet, there was a variety. We brought 4 beers from the book and Teva Boy, a lucky bastard who has just returned from a business travel to Copenhagen, provided two more listed beers.

We started the tasting with Boag, James Boag’s Premium Lager. A mediocre lager that traveled from Tasmania to Tel Aviv via New York, and spent too much time in metal containers for its own good. I find it hard to believe that there was anything special about this beer when it’s fresh. Apparently there was a clash of kings between the Late Michael Jackson to Boag’s brewery owner regarding the nature of Australian beer. You may call it hubris, but as opposed to The Beer Hunter, I cannot praise this generic pale lager.

Next followed Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor that Alma7 brought back from her visit to Bruges and Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, both from breweries I appreciate, both I was looking forward to drink.Unfortunately, both were rather disappointing. You’d expect a beer named Hopsinjoor to be hoppy. Well, there were *some* hops in the aroma and there was *some* bitterness in the mouth, but the general feel of this Belgian Stong Ale was of yeast. It’s an OK beer, but I find it a case of false advertising. Blanche de Chambly was disappointing in a different level. A Belgian-style white beer/ witbier/ wheat beer this one’s supposed to be, but instead of bold coriander and citrus aroma and taste, we drank a delicate, almost tasteless, peach-coloured and peach smelling brew that was very drinkable but that’s about it. There’s nothing to this beer besides drinkability.

The one good beer we shared was Green Flash West Coast IPA. Its mild skunkiness can be attributed to age, but I can live with that. Piney hoppiness, green, grassy bitterness and light-to-medium body.

Other than the 4 bottles we brought, we should thank Teva Pharmaceuticals for sending Teva Boy to try out machinery in Denmark. He brought a bottle of recently retired Nørrebro Bryghus Bombay Pale Ale. As the name indicates that’s an IPA. A retired beer, it’s waaaay past its prime. The one we shared was skunky and watery and smelled of yeast, malt and cleaning detergant. What a shame.

[Edited to add:

We actually drank Nørrebro Bombay Pale Ale (Økologisk) which is a new, all-organic version of ye olde BPA, launched last November. This makes it even sadder that the beer was off. Thanks, DSG, for yet another correction.]

Luckily, the other bottle Teva Boy shared, Limfjord Dark Porter, a baltic porter with an unattractive label, was superb. Roasty, woody, a little port and fenol in the nose, apparent barrel in the mouth and all in all an interesting and good beer.

To sum up this tasting, no heights but not true lows. Just beers  #142, #143, #144, #145, #146 and #147 I Must Try Before I Die.

Famous Five

Not quite sure how we came to mention Enid Blyton‘s series, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven (my favourite) and The Adventurous Series at this week’s tasting that took place in our place, but the Famous Five opening theme has been stuck with me ever since. Not going to embed the clip here, mind you, but the association is clear: out of the 15  bottles shared in our small living room, 5 are on my list. There are always bottles from the list in the  group tastings, because The Secret Agent and I mind the list when we shop, order and share. We provided two out of the five, 2 coincidentally popped up and another one was shared by The Beer Greek who was list-minded on his business trip to Copenhagen a few months ago.
We opened our contribution quite early on the tasting, as they were significantly lighter than most of the stuff we had.

First we had Unibroue Éphémère Apple, which is Unibroue’s summer fruit beer, followed by cassis, cranberry and peach – a fruit beer for each season. That’s the only one in the series that appears in the book but one out of the five that are represented in the 1001 Beers book. The label shows a fantastic drawing of a faery goddess that I find fascinating and at the same time cheesy. This is a white ale that’s brewed with apple must. It’s hazy greenish gold in colour and its white head dissolves quickly. I smelled ripe apple, oranges, blue cheese and something green and fruity and tasted sweet fruitiness and bubblegum. The beer had a medium body and sweet and sticky finish. It was quite alright and I’m tempted to get my hold on the other three seasonal fruit beers, although it means getting distracted from my mission.

Our bottle of Rogue Mocha Porter has been cooling in the fridge for a couple of months now. It got shoved to the back and I’m glad we found it and got to share it with the crew. With a label portrays a blue collar, mullet-sporting guy. The mocha porter is the love child between his morning diner drink and his after-work drink at the bar. Ugh, how’s that for a Bruce Springsteen cliche’? The beer pours reddish black with a small tan head and definitely smells of mocha. Other than mocha I sensed roastiness, chocolate sweetness and hints of sherry. Taste-wise the Rogue Mocha Porter is bitter and hoppy, but not too heavy and towards the end of the sip the malt is revealed. It has a medium body and a slightly dry finish. Quite a success.

The Covert Beer Tycoon (we’ll see if this nick works) brought an old bottle of Trappist Rochefort 10. That’s the second beer The Secret Agent and I drank on Belgian ground last October, at Le Bouffon Du Roi in Namur (the only place in our trip that served us glasses of tap water free of charge, kudos to them!). According to the notes in my travel journal we smellled chocolate and yeast and tasted an almost-winey sweetness. We prefered the first beer we had there, which was Trappist Rochefort 8. Back then, less than a year ago, we weren’t used to taking tasting notes, hence the lack of details. This week’s Rochefort 10 poured cloudy brown with a bubbly light tan head. and smelled of chocolate liquor. It tasted like sweet and heavy wine and had a full body and sweet aftertaste. Although it’s an expired bottle I pretty much enjoyed it. The crew agreed that aging beer is pretty much impossible in Israel coastal line. Well, comparing this week’s notes with lines written in a busy bar in the brewery’s proximity, it seems that the beer kept its basic traits despite its age and location.

Midtfyns Imperial Stout is probably the last bottle that the Beer Greek got from the list I sent him. I loved it. how can I not like a beer that pours black? Most of them are good. This one also had a tan film on top. The creamy chocolate aroma with the hints of cherry and wood was great and so was the taste: sweet, a little wood and cherry, deep and complicated. The beer has  full body and a very soft carbonation. I could have finished half a bottle by myself but there were 8 other tasters around the table and I was the last in the round anyway.

Fifth and last for this entry was De Molen Hemel & Aarde Bruichladdich Barrel. There was a controversy as to whether I should cross it off my list. Dead Swedish Girl, who is more conservative said I shouldn’t. She believes I should hunt the classic Hemel and Arade and list it. Others based their decisions on previous entries, like the *rum cask* Innis and Gunn, Ola Dubh *40* and Brewdog Paradox *whichever*. Naturally, I took the others’ side, hoping to drink the original version one day. This one was shared by The 9th, who brought it from Amsterdam, I think. It pours opaque, almost black with a tan film and bears an amazing smoke, burnt, iodine aroma. It tastes sweet, burnt-ash-dry with soft hints of vanilla. It’s a heavy beer. No carbonation. no need for them either. Texture is sleek and its finish bears wood and is slightly burning. This is the bottle that closed the session. I could’ve spent an evening with this bottle all by myself, it is THAT amazing.

Those were beers #101, 102, 103, 104, 105 I Must Try Before I Die. Hey, That’s past 10%!

Midi Bear and Troubles doing the Kelly and Brenda thing.


Passover is Almost Over

We had planned to host a couple of Israeli craft beer tasting on Passover week, but they were cancelled for different reasons. All for the better, though. Had more time for myself and didn’t need to clear the living from from any evidence of math. I wasn’t afraid to lose my coolness, mind you; I honestly fear of my precious notes.

We did get to attend one tasting, though. It was a small-scale due to the absence of some of the regulars, who either observe Passover or spent time with their families, but The Secret Agent and I met a new guy, who brought some Czech beers that we haven’t tried before and will most likely not try again in the future. Some nations should stick to their traditional recipes and methods, I guess.

We did get to sample a few interesting beers in this session. The Dead Swedish Girl brought a couple of dark brews that are worth mentioning: Danish Liquorice porter by Det Lille Bryggeri that although smelled of liquorice was much ti my liking. There aren’t many tastes and aromas that repeal me, but anise/ liquorice is one of the few.  It also had malt and some chocolate to balance the smell, and a bitter, somewhat dry taste. Well carbonated, full body and all in all – pretty good.

The second bottle The Swedish brought was St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout by Montrealian brewery McAuslan that had a sweet chocolate liquor aroma with hints of plum and a sweet-bitter-alcoholic taste that was nice altogether. Unlike the Lakrids Porter, this one had hardly any carbonation, but again, it was nice. Also, it was nice to discover that it appears in the 1001 book.

Our contribution to the tasting were also part of the 1001 challenge, but sadly, they weren’t on the awesome side of the scale:

Shipyard Fuggles IPA, that pours clear dark golden had an apple and malt aroma and tasted sweet. It was weird, not the kind of IPA you’d expect from an American craft brewery. Victory Hop Devil was also somewhat a disappointment. I believe it’s an old bottle. We’ve sampled this brewery before and liked what we had, but this IPA, despite having the “right” fruity aroma and the bitterness, was quite insignificant.

Rogue Yellow Snow IPA, that does not appear in the book, was the highlight of the tasting, not only for me but also for Big Bear Host, who specifically requested it. With a hazy amber colour and a creamy head, it poured beautifully. Its aroma was grassy, a little skunky and the taste was dry, grassy and bitter. Also, There’s a Frank Zappa song that shares title with this IPA:

Look! Beers #35, 36, 37 out of 1001 I must Try Before I Die!

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